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Extremely well written and unique story line. I loved reading this book so have since ordered the next 2 books in the series. If you are buying this book I would recommend buying all 3 books at once because I wish I did!! Can’t wait to see the storyline play out in the Netflix series soon.
I was really excited finally dive into the Grisa Universe and I wasn't disappointed. Leigh Bardugo has captivated me with this intriguing tale were magic offers supreme power to those who know how to wield it.
The world-building is complex and with well-defined characters. The storyline has a perfect amount of action, peppered with relaxed moments so that the reader can breathe and contemplate everything that is happening in this book.
Based on Russian culture, Ravka is a land divided by war and split in two by a barrier of darkness called the Unsea in which terrifying creatures lurk, making it hard for anyone to cross it without being torn apart. Until Alina Starkov makes her way into the Fold. She's an apprentice mapmaker in the army who somehow saves her fellow soldiers when they enter the expanse of land where there is no light. She then discovers she's a Grisha, a person who has a magical ability. Alina has a rare power, one that can be matched only by the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to wield it so she's sent to the royal palace to learn how to control her magic.
I like how Bardugo uses the contrast between light and darkness to convey the fact that sometimes things and events around us are as seen in just in black and white. The veil of naivety is torn from Alina's eyes when she discovers that everyone in the kingdom depends on her and sees her as their saviour. She is a strong heroine, full of wit and wisdom and has a kind heart. Her relationship with Mal, the boy who's always been by her side since they were orphaned as children, was heartwarming. They care deeply for one another but they just don't know how to express their feelings and that just confuses them and makes up for a lot of angsty moments. But as always my favourite character is the villain. The Darkling got my attention from the first moment and what a remarkable villain he is. He's a seductive and mysterious character, but at the same time frightening and very dangerous. His ability to control darkness turns him into the strongest and most feared Grisha of all time, making him an insightful strategist and an influential and charismatic leader.
Shadow and Bone is the kind of book that simply makes you visualize the scenes, like watching a movie. The characters gradually evolve throughout the book, but they do not forget where they started. Leigh Bardugo has created a unique and fantastic world, full of magic, adventure, power and suspense that will capture your hearts. I can't wait to read more!
The map helps immensely when working out just how far Mal and Alina have come from the initial introduction to the orphaned pair in the prologue.
My only criticism which I have seen others mention is that you are thrust into the world without much world-building. It wasn't well explained as to why the Grisha are so unique and their talents sort out but that would be the only problem I found. Leigh Bardugo has created something that I am eager to continue to learn more about whether it be Mal and Alina’s relationship or why The Darkling is so intrigued obsessed with the young orphan girl from their first meeting.
With the Grishaverse covering several novels I am certain I will not be disappointed at all as ’Shadow and Bone’ has opened the door onto another fantasy realm that is both dark and intriguing as well as light and welcoming.
I can definitely see why Netflix have picked this up and hope that whilst also enjoying the books I will be able to witness the world of the Grishas and men come to life.
I was disappointed in this book (and later this trilogy) mostly because both the male love interest seemed abusive. They're both their own version of male misogyny, one being possesive, jealous and controlling, the other being murderous, power hungry and manipulative. Every scene with them makes me uneasy and sad for the main characters inability to escape them and this doesn't seem to be the intention. From what I've read about the other books this gets significantly worse, leading to a miserable ending.
Spoilers: She was one of the most powerful beings in this universe and the author throws all that away so she can be with some guy. This is a YA novel and we shouldn't be telling young adults and teens that this is what love looks like, being stripped of all that makes you special so a man doesn't feel inferior. I know that author was probably going for a "he loves me just way I am" situation but a relationship where you're not able to grow as a person is not a relationship worth fighting for (certainly not one worth losing all your superpowers for). I know the main character didn't intentionally loose her powers for a guy but the author made it so when she put the protagonist in the exact position the male love interest wanted her in.
It's a shame because the world is fascinating and the plot and premise is page-turning, it was ripe with opportunities of female empowerment but the author decides to keep her main charcter in a bubble and doesn't let her act like what she is, a being with God-like powers who should eventually (after some personally growth) act like that and not bow to insecure and violent men. Go read Six Of Crows (maybe my all time favourite book) it's in the same universe but the characters are incredible and compelling especially the women. Six Of Crows is the author's later work and clearly shows a significant characterization improvement and how the authors evolved as a person and a writer.
What a phenomenal book. I read it over two days and could hardly put it down. I have rarely been so captivated by a novel, not since the hunger games many years ago, the protagonist is torn between so many things and it is so relatable. I was truly torn between characters, I felt their struggle to make decisions and I anticipated with them. Beautiful attention to detail, rich description of the magical world and magic craft, the atmosphere around the military bases and the nobility of the Grisha and mysterious worlds. Love the fact that this book uses similarities of the excessive parties during the Russian imperialism (while the rest of the country starved), a strong sense of class system and ranks, the poisonous and jealous atmosphere and the torture and bullying Alina had to endure. The description of how magic is used is incredibly image provoking and accurate. Ordered the other two books of the trilogy, can't wait to dig in.
I got the paperback and the audiobook. The first arrived in perfect condition and the cover is really beautiful (The size of the letters are medium-big). The latter was also very nice, the narrator did a very good job and changed slightly the tone or accent for each character without feeling cringy. I kind of preferred the audiobook.
I liked it quite a lot, easy to read and the plot is nice with a mix of usual and unusual ideas. The magic system is interesting though I would have like a little more development of it. But I didn't like a lot of characters, most of them were just made to be hated and that's it... also if the characters weren't main characters I didn't think they were really well developed either and almost none of those were really significant in the plot.
Just some rough thoughts: Amazing writing, complex storyline but not hard to follow with deep and wonderfully developed characters. This was quickly absorbing and totally unpredictable. The description was perfectly pitched, not too heavy but I was able to paint the world easily in my mind. I listened on audio and the narration was superb.
Great story, well written with great characters. I was looking for something to fill the void after I’d finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, and this is definitely it. Will be buying the rest of the trilogy.